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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween all!

Today I have been very busy with the kids! I have gone shopping, made cakes & giant cookies, hollowed out a butternut squash (no pumpkins available), made a lovely soup, and (catches breath) made a cottage pie... PHEW!

And over all this, today was the day my novella, EMILY, became available to read via all eReaders!

I know I should be overjoyed & excited about this, but the truth is I am really nervous and can only hope the feedback (if any) is good.

I wrote Emily to fill a gap and to understand my character better when I was writing RETURN. I never knew if I would ever finish to story. In the end, I had fun completing it and when I shared it with a few friends & readers they enjoyed it...

I have to admit that there is a bit of an eighties flashback going on during the plot. A lot of memories that for some will mean nothing, and for others will hopefully raise a smile. I spent HOURS rewinding and fixing cassettes when I was growing up! I thought I was so cool walking around with my Sony Walkman, which was massive compared to today's tiny music devices!

Anyway, for your enjoyment, here is an exclusive extract from EMILY...

The shop was massive inside. Music was playing, but she could not see the speakers. There were plenty of records and little boxes with the same picture neatly organised in alphabetical order. She picked one up, but it was sealed so she could not open it to look inside.

‘That’s a cassette, you know that right,’ Paul asked.

‘No, I’ve never seen one before,’ she snapped. She did not want to be nasty, but this was getting ridiculous. Why didn’t they have cassettes back home? She always thought they were up to date – so much for that.

‘You’re funny. Come with me.’

He grabbed her hand and led her to the counter. ‘Can you pass me a cassette, please? She’s never seen one.’

‘Really?’ The man looked flummoxed, then shrugged his shoulders and handed one over.

‘This is a cassette. The music is recorded onto it and you put it in a cassette player.’

‘It’s small compared to a record.’

‘That’s why it’s better than a record. Saying that, sometimes the tape gets caught and I have to fix it with sellotape. It’s not perfect. Difficult. Records also get scratched. Okay, stop looking at me like that. I know I’ve gone all nerdy. I like my music.’

‘I’m interested – promise.’ Totally interested.

‘Anyway, cassettes and records – until someone comes up with something better. As if, right?’ he laughed aloud.

‘Yes,’ she laughed with him. ‘Nothing could be better than this.’

You can read the rest and find out what happens by clicking on the links!

Thank you for your support, Vanessa

Amazon    Smashwords    Barnes & Noble   iTunes 

Emily has not changed in fifty years. A freak accident made her immortal, or so she thinks. When she is finally allowed to return to her beloved England all is not as she expected. So much has changed. The past she was holding onto does not exist. Since the Second World War, people have embraced a new age. In this era, people have an obsession with gadgets, strange clothes and weird music.

Added to this her blood-lust has become insatiable and her promise to control herself is torn to shreds. That is until she meets Paul. She never expected to find love... and when it happens, can she do what it takes to hold on to it?

Fate has never been kind to Emily, and it gives her everything she wants at a cost. She must pay a price for being a murderer. For within her twisted heart lies a dark soul.





Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A historic building, wonderful authors, and lovely children!

I have been waiting for something like this to blog... what a brilliant weekend at the IOWLF (or Isle of Wight Literary Festival!)

The beautiful setting of Northwood house and the extra facilities brought in this year created a buzz and yet relaxed environment where people could discuss and buy books at their leisure.

This was my third year as a volunteer at the festival. This time I was lucky enough to be involved as a speaker and attend several talks, so I basically experienced the best of everything.

I hope you enjoy finding out about it...

Vanessa

FRIDAY

I booked to see Dr Sam Willis & Horatio Clare mainly to help me with my research into life at sea, both in the past and the present.

I never expected to be entertained by music! Dr Sam Willis is not only a respected historian and excellent speaker. He is also a gifted musician, which proves my point that "us" writers are a truly creative bunch.

To start off, we were treated to a sea shanty played with a banjo and accompanied by melodic lyrics (he is a very brave man). I had no idea that he would then enrich our minds with a wealth of incredible information about the glorious years of British naval history which were bound and preserved in a beautiful edition. Even though this book was presented to the nation and includes original dispatches from the seven major fleet battles, it was kept a secret until he stumbled upon it in 2010! The contents of the book are truly fantastic and they can tell us a lot about the period of time, the mentality of the men writing the letters, and the incredible heritage we should always remember. The talk had us all entranced and the fact he ended with a sea shanty he played with a guitar set off all with a smile.

On a personal note, I find it incredible that there was (and is) so much honour in massacres committed for the protection of the crown and trade routes, but war is something human beings are very good at! I think we have come a long way in understanding the value of mediation and empathy since then, but unfortunately the modern world is still fractured by many who are willing to commit horrific crimes in the name of duty...

You can find out more about this fascinating book HERE

The one thing I can say for Horatio Clare is that he is extremely funny and he made us all imagine vividly his tales of life on board the vessels of Maersk.

The readings from his book captured my imagination and gave me a further insight into life at sea. The fact that my husband works for a shipping company, my father-in-law was a sea captain and I have actually named a vessel, gives me an advantage over most people... I know something of this lifestyle!

Overall, I really enjoyed the talk. For more information, I suggest you read this insightful GUARDIAN REVIEW.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Royal Yacht Squadron  for an author reception. I went along with my husband and we loved looking at the pictures on the walls and soaking in the atmosphere. I spoke to several lovely people and had a few canapes, before my husband and I decided to go for a nice meal on our own... quality time is important too! Ended up in a Chinese restaurant eating dim sum! YUM!

SATURDAY

I was posted as a volunteer in the Author Meet & Greet area on Saturday morning. Met a very nice journalist who took my picture... you never know, he might actually use it! Easy job and I served Ann Widdecombe her lunch! My claim to fame...

I was off schedule during the afternoon so I bought last minute tickets to see Simon Callow. I am so glad I did since his talk was amazing! I could have easily listened for another couple of hours. He spoke about his fascination with Charles Dickens and brought to life some of his own experiences in acting out a range of roles. Absolutely FANTASTIC! GUARDIAN REVIEW

In the evening, I was posted at Trinity Theatre - a place which hold fond memories since I acted and sang on the stage a few times! My best role was as Mitzi in A Murder is Announced! Click on the link to read the review! :)

I enjoyed listening to Jay Rayner, but I did think it was a bit too serious for a Saturday night... I did not expect to listen to an intense discussion on the evil nature of supermarkets, the quest for sustainability, and the pending threat of China eating more meat! Oh well...

On a side note, I watched an amazing program the next evening on the BBC about the Yangtse River, which discussed similar issues in a much friendlier way.

SUNDAY

In the morning, I ran a children's workshop which was FANTASTIC! I was also told that I was the most organised workshop yet! Love it...


A huge thank you to my friends - Donna, Tamsin, Maria (a fantastic local author who did all the face paints) & my wonderful daughter, Elsa!

I could not have done it without them! These are some pictures and the lovely creations... books, bookmarks & painted faces!


In the afternoon, I gave a talk about my Evolution as a Writer - I have blogged about this HERE!

The Evolution of a Writer...

"What exactly I said is a blur, but I think everyone enjoyed it. 

Ultimately, I could have said so much more, but I focused on the lead up to my writing career and read excerpts from my trilogy that focus on topics such as relationships, war, my upbringing in Gibraltar, and personal conflict."


THE AUTHORS I WATCHED

Dr Sam Willis is one of the world’s leading authorities on maritime and naval history. His writing is infused with his own experience and knowledge of seafaring. Sam is the author of numerous books on maritime and naval history including the bestselling Hearts of Oak Trilogy and the Fighting Ships Series. Sam is a regular broadcaster on both TV and Radio. In 2013 Sam presented a three-part series on Shipwrecks for BBC4 and recreated the first ever voyage down the Grand Canyon for BBC2 in 'Operation Grand Canyon'.


Horatio Clare is the author of two memoirs, the best-selling Running for the Hills and Truant; the travel book A Single Swallow - which follows the birds' migration from South Africa to the UK - and a novella, The Prince's Pen. His new book is the bestselling travelogue Down to the Sea In Ships, based on voyages around the world on cargo vessels. Currently the Miriam Allott Fellow for Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool, he writes regularly in the press on nature and travel and contributes to Radio 4. He was awarded the Somerset Maugham prize by the Society of Authors, and is a Foreign Press Association Travel Writer of the Year.


Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared in many films, including the hugely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral.   His  books include Being An Actor, Shooting The Actor,  an  acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton, a biographical trilogy of Orson Welles (of which the first two parts have been published) and Love Is Where It Falls, an account of his friendship with the great play agent Peggy Ramsay.

My Life In Pieces  - An Alternative Autobiography  won the Sheridan Morley Prize in 2011. Simon's Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World Was published  to coincide with the bicentenary of Dickens' birthday in 2012.


Jay Rayner is the Observer's restaurant critic and a novelist. His latest book is the Oyster House Siege.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Blogging blues...

I have not had much motivation to blog recently... by the time I've caught up on Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc I try to knuckle down to the reason I started all this - WRITING FICTION!

It is very easy in this day and age to get lost in the frenzy of social media and lose focus. I know, I have done it a lot.

Also, after you have a few books out it becomes a bit of an obsession to keep checking your rating and to see how many sales (or lack of) you have made. I find the issue of selling, especially on Amazon, fascinating.

I have recently began to understand the power of "buddy" sales and can see why a book like Fifty Shades went viral after a massive following online spread the word. This is the key to sales for any unknown author who has been published via a small press or self-published! You need readers...

Readers are easy to find if you interact with them on a daily basis. They will rally around you, protect you, and most importantly review.

Help! I'm stuck up here...
However, if, like a lot of writers, you have been focusing on the craft and not engaging with your potential audience then, regardless of how fantastic your book is, the truth is you might not make many sales. This is not important if you are happy with your finished product and you just wanted it out there. If you wanted to be a bestseller... you might be in for some disappointment.

I recently wrote this simple fact.

In order to sell books you have to be visible.

In order to be visible you have to sell books.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

So, my advice is this... if you want to sell books join a book-club on Goodreads and start to make contacts. Do it because you love books - after all, what writer doesn't?

I have met some amazing people online. I have to think of the positives not the negatives! I hope you do too...

All the best,
Vanessa

P.s. I have also finished my novella - click on this link of you want to know more => EMILY